Tuesday, April 30, 2013

COVER REVEAL: The Fragile Things / V. Shaw

Two girls on the road to self-destruction.
A village upon the brink of collapse.
A past which refuses to die.

The beginning of an epic four-part horror serial.

At seventeen-years-old, Jennifer should have the world at her feet. Instead, she’s an ex-heroin addict living in a council estate with Tony, her boyfriend and former dealer. Shunned by her family and friends, she dreams of something greater than she’s been given.

Beautiful and strange, Ebony has moved in across the street. She’s just lost the one person in her lonely existence to cancer. She’s also a centuries-old vampire, struggling to cope with murderous outbursts and the desire to be something more.

When these two lost souls meet, an unusual friendship begins.

But with the news of Morris, Tony’s sadistic best friend and drug-dealing partner, being released from prison, Jennifer knows it’s only a matter of time before his path of vengeance leads to her and Ebony, too.

With a cast of memorable characters, a village full of secrets, and a gripping story, The Fragile Things is a layered tale of friendship, hope, survival and what it truly means to be human.

Part I of The Fragile Things is available on Amazon from 30th April, 2013. And will be FREE 30th April – 2nd May.

Author Bio: V. Shaw is the author of short fiction collection, The Lady of Chains and Other Stories. Having reviewed horror films for FatallyYours.com, she now focuses on creating her own monsters.

Friday, April 26, 2013

SPOTLIGHT: Starships Were Meant to Fly...

With the new "Star Trek" movie just around the corner and new "Star Wars" movies on the way, I can't help hoping that maybe, just maybe, starships are becoming mainstream again. I'm a sucker for space operas (hell, I wrote one!), and in my opinion, there simply aren't enough space movies these days. There are, however, plenty of space books, thank goodness. Here are some worth checking out:

The Ultimate Inferior Beings by Mark Roman
Another quirky British space adventure full of daft characters. Click here to read the Zigzag Timeline review.

The NEXUS series by Ross Harrison
A science fantasy full of space battles and ancient powers! Click here to read the Zigzag Timeline review of Shadow of the Wraith and here to read the review of Temple of the Sixth.

The New Dawn series by James Butler
Don't be fooled by the cover. The New Dawn series presents an expansive and detailed foray into an unfriendly galaxy. Butler's many story lines weave together to pain a vivid image of his speculative universe, one full of action and intrigue. Click here to read the Zigzag Timeline review of Deception and here to read the review of Revelation.

Oh, and this might be a little self-promo-ish of me, but I can't not mention my own little space adventure, which is a little different from most books in its genre in that it's not about saving the galaxy...

Artificial Absolutes by Mary Fan
Click here to check it out on Goodreads and see what people are saying. 

Monday, April 22, 2013


Ivan Amberlake, author of the urban fantasy The Beholder, talks about his novel, inspirations, and writing process. Follow him on Twitter, Find him on Facebook, Visit his book's Facebook page, Find him on Goodreads, Visit his website, or Visit Breakwater Books' website.

The Beholder tells the story of an ordinary New Yorker, Jason, who learns about his critical role in a supernatural battle between good and evil. What inspired this story? How did you develop the idea of the Sighted?

Before I started writing The Beholder, I only had an image of a man standing on top of a skyscraper, with a thunderstorm raging around him. This image was so powerful that it inspired me to start writing chapter after chapter, something that I’d never done before. The scene that I had in mind was initially a prologue, but I decided to move it closer to the end of the book.

Frankly speaking, The Beholder wasn’t supposed to be a fantasy book at first, but it just happened to transform into one as I was greatly influenced by Sergei Lukyanenko’s "Watch" Series. I wished to create something like this, yet new, and the Lightsighted and Darksighted were born.

Why did you choose New York as your setting?

From the beginning I knew the story would be set in a city with lots of skyscrapers, so my choice was between Moscow and New York—cities I’ve never been to, yet would love to visit sometime in the future. I picked New York because of its grandeur and glamor, but it doesn’t mean that part of the series won’t happen in Moscow or any other city of the world. One of The Beholder chapters is set in Minsk, Belarus, and I intend to let my characters travel to other cities and countries in the books to come.

What is your favorite scene in The Beholder? Could you please describe it?

Frankly speaking, I can’t choose just one, probably because The Beholder is not a one-genre book, but has elements of fantasy, sci-fi and romance in it, so if my favorite fantasy scene would be the one I’ve described above, my favourite romantic scene is the one in Chapter 23 where Jason and Emily are strolling around the estate garden and come up to two trees with a hammock tied to them. This is where and when Jason and Emily say they love each other, and also the point at which the story takes a darker turn.

Do you consider yourself as having a particular writing style?

When writing I always try to visualize what is going on and then describe the scene. I get inside my characters’ minds and try to show what they feel. I stick to the principle of “Less is more” by using the right amount of narrative, dialogue and descriptions.

Can you tell us a bit about your writing process? How much did The Beholder change from first draft to publication?

With The Beholder, I just sat down and started hammering the keys without thinking much about what I was writing. Frankly speaking, I often think that the book wrote itself, because when rereading the first draft I sometimes wondered how I could write this scene or that. Of course, after my first draft was ready I started editing heavily. It was great luck for me to come across a writers’ community Authonomy.com, where I met lots of great people who helped me understand the principles of modern writing. The book would never be the way it is now if not for them. So when The Beholder was finished, it was completely different from the first draft.

Among the characters in The Beholder, do you have a favorite?

Oh, they are all my favorites, each of them in his or her own fashion. If we take Jason Walker, the main character, his transformed self closer the end of the book is what I’ve wanted my own self to be. As for Emily Ethan, who Jason falls in love with, she was greatly inspired by my wife, so she’s definitely one of my favorites as well. I can’t help liking even my evil characters because they are part of the story that helps me show a world I have within to my readers. Without these characters the story would be incomplete.

Can you tell us a bit about Breakwater Harbor Books, who is listed as The Beholder’s publisher?

Well, BHB is not exactly a publisher, but rather a group of self-published authors who promote each other in different ways: on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Authonomy, and on the last pages of our books where more releases of BHB authors are recommended. Scott J. Toney and Cara Goldthorpe are the founders of this group. Both helped me immensely with The Beholder, and I’m grateful to them and other members for their support.

What’s your favorite part of writing? Dialogue? Descriptions? Plotting?

I think it’s the descriptions. Plotting usually gives me a splitting headache, and while writing dialogue I always question myself: “Do people talk like that in real life?”, so I think the best part of writing for me is describing the scenes, especially the ones with lots of action and tension. That’s where I’m in my element.

Are you working on anything new?

As crazy as my real life is at the moment, it’s really hard to find the time to write, though I should say I’m writing Book 2 of The "Beholder" Series, which is called Path of The Heretic, and I also hope to finish my YA Paranormal/Horror Novel (Novella) called Diary of the Gone which tells about a boy haunted by the dead. The boy can only stop the dead from following him by writing in an old diary he accidentally finds, yet at some point the diary disappears and his life turns into a nightmare.

The Beholder is available at:  Amazon US (Kindle e-book), Amazon US (paperback), Amazon UK (Kindle e-book), Amazon UK (paperback)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

REVIEW: The Gunners of Shenyang / Yu Jihui

TITLE: The Gunners of Shenyang
AUTHOR: Yu Jihui
PUBLISHER: Signal 8 Press
AVAILABILITY: Amazon US (paperback pre-order), Amazon UK (paperback pre-order)


The Gunners of Shenyang is the true story of a young man attending university in 1960s China, a time when the nation starved under a totalitarian regime.

The Gunners of Shenyang is very fast-paced for a memoir. Yu writes in a bold, efficient style that carries the drama forward and leave you wanting to know what happens.

First person past.


Every so often, I read a book so brilliant, I feel like my skills as a reviewer are insufficient for expressing just how amazing I found it. The Gunners of Shenyang is one of those books. I’m sure my few paragraphs won’t do the book justice, but I’ll try.

The Gunners of Shenyang is the poignant, sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, and ultimately tragic true story of Yu’s time at university. During the mid-twentieth century, the Chinese government’s attempts to steer the country toward progress and prosperity inadvertently led to devastation. In their attempts to industrialize overnight, they left the agricultural sector unattended, and the result was a famine that lasted years, costing millions of lives. But to even say one was hungry was considered and insult to the government, for it implied that the socialist regime could not provide for its people.

Yu, known as “Soapy,” shares a dorm room with four other young men, all but one of whom are from impoverished backgrounds like his. Because the famine, Soapy was forced to eat whatever he could get his hands on in order to survive, including bean curd dregs. While these dregs filled his stomach, they upset his bowels, leading him to become a serial farter. As it turns out, his “big gun” pales next to those of his roommates, all of whom frequently engage in flatulence for the same reason: they are forced to eat all manner of unsuitable “foods,” their digestive systems rebel. The book’s title refers to this flatulence, which becomes a language of camaraderie. Helpless to change their circumstances, all the students can do is laugh about their “big guns” in a crude college boy fashion.

While Soapy is the central character, the hero of the story is his roommate, Big Zhang, a courageous older student who dares to be nonconformist in a society where one wrong remark can get you sent to a desolate town in the middle of nowhere. Big Zhang is a truly delightful character. Bold, clever, and unabashedly crude, he uses sarcasm to mock and protest the system at the mandatory student political meetings. His brand of comedy is easy to laugh at, but its basis in truth is nothing short of tragic. Throughout the book, he walks a razor’s edge as he butts heads with the students towing the party line.

Yu writes in a crisp, efficient style that brings the characters and setting to life without a wasted word. The story he tells is gripping, revealing, and powerful. Some moments had me cracking up, others had me gripping the book in nervousness, and others still had me on the verge of tears. It’s easy to sense Soapy and Big Zhang’s frustrations. They’re trapped in a society where they’re not only hungry, but can’t even express that hunger without fear of persecution.

For readers unaccustomed to Chinese culture, The Gunners of Shenyang also offers a portrait a society where everyone has a nickname, where heightened emotions are expressed, and where one’s greatest fear is being publicly shamed, or “losing face.” Informative and entertaining, the book paints a vivid portrait of Soapy’s world.

Dystopia is a hot genre right now. Stories of intrepid teenagers fighting evil governments are flying off the shelves so quickly, it’s easy to forget that dystopia isn’t always a fantasy. Yu Jihui’s memoir, The Gunners of Shenyang, tells the story of one young man’s experiences in a real life totalitarian dystopia: China during the Cultural Revolution.

I found a handful of typos (such as the occasional missing quotation mark), but nothing distracting.

This book contains adult language.

[from the back of the book]
Yu Jihui, a former university professor, taught English for more than twenty years in China. Born in Qingdao, Shandong province, he travelled extensively with his family when he was young. In 2001, he migrated to Australia, and he now lives in Melbourne.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

You Wrote a Book... Now What?

by Paige Daniels

It’s taken years of blood, sweat, and tears, but you’ve finally done it you’ve written your first book. You’ve written query letter after query letter and had your hopes dashed time after time. Your fingers are bloodied stumps from typing pithy attention getting synopsis and after synopsis. Finally, your baby is published! You have a hard copy sitting in your grimy little paws waiting for the world to read, because you know, everyone wants to read it. So, now that all your hard work is over what do you do? No, seriously, I’m asking: what the heck do I do?

I’m a newbie to this whole writing business so this won’t be a blog about how to maximize your reader potential or whether Goodreads is better than Shelfari. No, I just want to give my newbie point of view about marketing my book. This is something that most authors, at least me, don’t give a second thought to when they plot chapters and edit grammar.

When I talk to most of my friends who aren’t familiar with the book biz (yeah, I’m hip I call it biz) they assume that the book publisher takes care of all the marketing and the author can sit back, eat bon-bons, and watch the money fly in. I’m lucky enough to have a great publisher Kristell Ink (plug plug plug) that has helped me a great deal with contacts and marketing material. However, it is really up to the author to go to local bookstores, tell friends and family (aka annoy the crap out of them), use social media to get your message out there, and generally just use old fashioned hard work to get the word out there about your book. 

I’m the shy kind of introverted type at least I don’t like bugging people too much about things, but I’ve found that I’ve really had to go out of my comfort zone when it comes to this. I’ve had to call/write bookstore multiple times to get my book stocked. I’ve had to beg and plead for reviews. But it all comes with the territory.

 I’ve had to be brave about putting my book out there for God and everyone to see. But I realize I have to be willing to risk someone not liking the book to get to those who will like the book. I’ve had to endure sitting at a cold outdoor book fair while roughly a million people (give or take) walked right by my author table. Talk about an ego blow. 

I’m not complaining though. I think all of this has been a great learning experience for me. I’ve learned to not equate the money earned on my book with a dollars per hour kind of figure. If I did it would be depressing. No, this is a labor of love. I think in the end I’ll walk away with some good lessons for the future if I decide to walk down this author path again and if I don’t then it was a fun trip while it lasted. 

Oh and by the way, it wouldn’t be a good marketing blog if I didn’t market myself. Right now I’m having a giveaway. Everyone likes free stuff not to mention, lots of free stuff. I’m having a rafflecopter giveaway that ends May 15th. There’s lots of cool stuff like an autographed copy of my book, a tote, an Amazon gift card, a t-shirt, and maybe some other surprises. So go to rafflecopter and follow their directions to be entered. It couldn’t be any easier. 

Click here to visit Paige's website.
Click here to read a review of Paige's book, Non-Compliance: The Sector.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, April 19, 2013


10 Questions for comic book author Matt Nelson. Visit his comic's Facebook page or Follow him on Twitter.

Hi, Matt! Welcome to Zigzag Timeline. Can you tell us a bit about your background in comics?

Governments across the world engaged in illicit human and animal genetic manipulation that was less then scrupulous, and as a result global riots occurred. Using the riots as a smokescreen for their own agenda, terrorists partnered up with social activists unknowingly. Realizing their window of opportunity would be small, the terrorists blamed these illicit activities upon the United States, and a nuclear bomb was smuggled in and detonated upon American soil; Florida. The affects were immediate as several other bombs were detonated across the globe, laying waste to much of the global population. Those that managed to survive were mutated either into monstrosities beyond normal reckoning, or mutated into a hybrid animalistic humanoid. In the shadows of this event, several of the hybrids came together to pave their own way in this new world that was pushed beyond the brink of madness.

The current year is 2042, and the struggle continues... in The Grove

In your opinion, what makes comic books a unique medium for storytelling?

Well, with comics, you have a faster-paced story that is being told, one that is accompanied by pictures. It is the pictures that tell much of the story that the reader might not get via dialogue.

What was the inspiration behind “The Grove”? Do you remember where the idea for the story came from?

Well, I have always been fascinated by stories of survival against insurmountable odds, stories about animals, and stories that are told of the future. Joining them all together gave me the inspiration for the comic, not to mention various movies, such as Waterworld, Mad Max, etc...

Do you have a favorite scene from “The Grove”? Can you please describe it?

Well, not to give too much away, but there is a scene in an issue down the road that is focused on a character named Max. Alone and desperate for someone to hear him, desperate for some form of companionship, Max has stumbled upon an archaic-yet-functional HAM radio, and the dialogue and the imagery that come forth will make the reader both laugh and cry at the scene. There is another scene, in Issue #1 which is out right now, that I also enjoyed illustrating. One of the characters, Kasidy, is being chased by something and while he is racing through the swamp, he is multitasking; calling HQ on his mic asking about his extraction point, trying to evade being eaten by whatever is chasing him, and he's trying not to run into something. I know the readers will enjoy both scenes. I know I did!

“The Grove” takes place in a dark, violent future. How did you go about developing the setting?

Well, as I said previously, I was heavily inspired by such movies as "Waterworld", Tom Cruise's' newest film "Oblivion", Mel Gibson's "Mad Max" films, and other films, such as Bladerunner. I thought about all those films, and thought about what each one brought to the table. I also thought about Orwell's "Animal Farm", and English author Richard Adams' "Watership Down., and how each of those dealt with anthropomorphic animals as characters.

Of the characters in “The Grove,” do you have a favorite? Could you please describe him/her?

Hmm. I would have to say I enjoy Kasidy. Kasidy is an anthropomorphic Rabbit. The term 'Anthropomorphic' simply means "possessing both human and animal qualities". Kasidy is hyper at times, yet has great willpower. That is one of the reasons why his superiors turn to Kasidy, because they know they can count on him to get things done, and he knows how to "think outside the box". He is unique in that he possesses cybernetics, which I think actually help to control his hyper state some.

Do you have a process? Could you please describe it?

Hmm. My process is simple. Sit down at my computer, turn on my music, and begin doing pictorial renderings of the image, with a copy of the script up as well to refer back to. That's it :)

Of the characters and creatures in “The Grove,” which, in your opinion, is the most visually interesting?

Hehe, yes, that would be "Doc". Doc is an anthropomorphic alligator, and is bright and loud, and deadly. In nature, that which is bright and colorful is often equally as deadly. Well, that pretty much goes for Doc as well.

Is there a message in “The Grove”?

Yes. Don't mess with mother nature, or mother nature will mess with you, and she will fight dirty.

What are you working on now?

I am currently working on Issues of the comic. No rest for the wicked.

"The Grove" is available at What The Flux?! Comics


Today, I'm spotlighting a post-apocalyptic comic book, "The Grove" by Matthew Nelson and Robert Rumery. Set in a bleak, terrifying future, "The Grove" tells its story in dark yet vivid colors. The snappy dialogue and action-filled images bring this tale of science gone wrong to life. I'm not exactly an art critic, but I can tell you that the images in "The Grove," which are drawn in watery lines and bold yet muted colors, are really pack a punch. They seem to move, even as still images. The danger-filled story is exciting and engaging, and I think both sci-fi fans and comics fans will enjoy it.

Below is the blurb:

Governments across the world engaged in illicit human and animal genetic manipulation that was less then scrupulous, and as a result global riots occurred. Using the riots as a smokescreen for their own agenda, terrorists partnered up with social activists unknowingly. Realizing their window of opportunity would be small, the terrorists blamed these illicit activities upon the United States, and a nuclear bomb was smuggled in and detonated upon American soil; Florida. The affects were immediate as several other bombs were detonated across the globe, laying waste to much of the global population. Those that managed to survive were mutated either into monstrosities beyond normal reckoning, or mutated into a hybrid animalistic humanoid. In the shadows of this event, several of the hybrids came together to pave their own way in this new world that was pushed beyond the brink of madness.

The current year is 2042, and the struggle continues... in The Grove.

"The Grove" is available at What The Flux?! Comics. Follow "The Grove" on Twitter or Like its Facebook page.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Flirting with the Reader: The Pleasures of a Good Tease.

by RR Gall

    Knock knock.
    Who’s there?
    Tease who?
    The detective has gathered all the suspects into one room of this splendid house. The piano tuner – Major Alan Hollingsworth(retired) – is dead, crushed when the massive lid of a grand piano fell on his head as he tinkered away with its inners. Unusually the deceased appears to be well-liked and his piano tuning was more of a hobby than a job. In fact, Hollingsworth would only work on the finest of grand pianos, leaving the detective to suspect it was merely a method of meeting wealthy and influential families, a way to tell them about his family’s parquet flooring company.
    The crash of the falling lid had been heard throughout the house. The sonorous death chord, in A Flat Major, had brought everyone running – but no-one appeared to have witnessed the crime.
    Now as he stands in the centre of the room, the detective looks round at the ten faces before him. Suddenly, he points a finger at Artur Filey, used carpet salesman, and cries, ‘He did it!’ The doors burst open, the police rush in, and the man is arrested. The End.
    We might feel a little disappointed, even a little cheated, if this ever happened in, say, an Agatha Christie novel, as more is expected from the denouement. We are used to it being stretched out. So it is my theory that teasing is a good thing, and in moderation, can and should be applied to other parts of a story.
    When a detective is interviewing a suspect, for example, delaying the answer to an important question may be beneficial: not only does it break up a sometimes flat question and answer sequence, it can help build tension, as well as give the reader time to consider the implications of the question.
    The same teasing can be applied to other aspects of a story. In The Case of Colourful Clothes and Kilts (second book of my trilogy) the detective arranges for a hospital walking stick but it is many pages later until he uses it, and it is not until the end of the book that the reason is given: the aim being to keep the reader thinking and guessing while other matters are on-going.
     And then there is the root of the mystery, the heart of the story. In some circumstances, the drama can be heightened if it is exposed, not in one full gush, but by one delicate layer after another.
    So, used sparingly – no-one likes to be teased all the time – delaying outcomes, in my view, can be a useful aid in writing.
    Tease who?
    Tease all crossed and I’s all dotted, time to get this beast published.
    Okay, that might not have been worth the wait. But some things can be.

Click here to visit RR Gall's Website

    The Dumfries Detective trilogy is available on Amazon:
    Part 1. The Case of the Pig in the Evening Suit.
    Part 2. The Case of Colourful Clothes and Kilts.
    Part 3. The Case of the Hermit’s Guest Bedroom.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

BLOGGER INTERVIEW: Amber of Book Geek Speaks

10 Questions for book blogger Amber of Book Geek Speaks.

Hi, Amber! Welcome to Zigzag Timeline. What got you into book blogging?

Thanks so much for having me!  I got into book blogging about a year ago.  I really enjoy writing and had tried to start a blog multiple times about various things, but either I didn’t have the time or just lost interest.    My friend Robin started blogging about beauty, she is a makeup maven, and was writing about one of her passions and what she knows.  I thought hey I can do the same thing, write what I am passionate about and have never lost interest in, which is reading.  So it has been a little over a year and I am still going strong!

Can you tell us about your blog? How did you choose its name, "Book Geek Speaks"?

There is no way around it, I am a geek, a nerd, a lover of all things that are not supposed to be “cool”, and I always have been.  I am a daydreamer.   I contemplate real life possibilities of things with my friends and we even tried sliding over the car once in college.  I love comics and video games.  I was talking about band camp before it was mainstream.  I love books and I have always carried them with me… every.single.place.   My favorite place growing up was our library. I love old tv shows.  And I am sarcastic, pretty much without thinking most of the time, but I also tend to want to believe the best in people.

So my blog is a compilation of all of these things, of who I am.    A- booky- geeky- sarcastic- train-wreck- in-the-kitchen-kind-of- girl.   And book geek just seemed to sum it up perfectly.

I noticed that you're keeping a 2013 reading list, and wow, you've already read quite a few novels! How much time do you spend reading?

Not enough!  If someone could pay me to read all day it would be heaven, just lounging outside with a drink in hand and just absorbing myself in the book.  Books are just amazing and they are the ultimate way to live a thousand different lives and experience things that we may not get to.

Do you have a favorite genre?

Not really.  It’s more about the story vs the genre for me.  There are some out of each area that I love that just reach out and grab me in certain ways.    There are some stories that transcend genres.  I think if you limit yourself to certain genres you miss the chance of a great story, a chance to experience something new and exciting and rewarding.

Do you remember how you got into reading? Was there a particular childhood book that got you hooked?

No, I don’t, I just remember always reading.  I was that girl that just read all the time.  I always won the most books read and reading awards. There are two books that stand out as my first “adult” type books.  In second grade we had this amazing teacher who was big into reading.  She read us parts of the Hobbit (and we read parts of it out loud as well).   She also got each of us our own copy of the full Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, taking turns reading out loud during glass.  I still have that copy on my bookshelf.

What's your opinion on the quick rise of self-publishing?

I have two minds about this… I think on one hand it is amazing.   We are getting these wonderful authors and great stories out for the public.  There are these truly talented writers that don’t have agents or publishers and don’t know how to get either but now with so many advancements in tech they are able to share their stories.    There are some truly interesting ideas and concepts out there that are just catching attention.  And it’s a great avenue for people who love to write and just want to share what they have.

Now we have the other hand.  We have people who are publishing that are not taking the time and effort to edit or put together a real finished off project and just want to be the next big thing and jumping on the what’s hot band wagon.  There is a lot of regurgitating going on and just slapping stuff together which is really doing the readers and other writers a disservice.  No one wants to take a chance on a new unknown author when they have been burned by unfinished material.  They feel misled, and this affects the whole community.   

Walking into a bookstore, virtual or brick-and-mortar, can be overwhelming with all the options out there. How do you choose which books you read?

I am a brick-and-mortar kinda girl at heart with a side affair with the Kindle app.   In the store, it is really what I am feeling at the time and the book cover (and if I remembered to grab my super long list of books to read).   Those two together will indicate what things I will pick up to look at.    I usually read the beginning of the book in the store after reading the back cover.    If I feel like I can’t get into it I will put it back.  If I feel like I am about to sit down and nest in the store then I am checking that bad boy out!

E-books are harder for me.  I am at the stage that I don’t buy it unless I have it on my list to read and it’s a good deal or it is free.    With the free books I read the summary and an excerpt if possible after I see a book and title cover I like.  Then I read the reviews.

Do you review every book you read? In your opinion, what should a book review include?

No I don’t.  Sometimes I get on a roll reading and I forget to write up the review and then I forget what some of the more important things are about and writing a review that says... it’s awesome... read it now...under the book title just sounds kinda lame.  Sometimes it’s because I don’t really know what to say.  I just finished Animal Farm and I honestly could not think of what to say that others haven’t said better.

I think a book review needs to include a summary and the authors thoughts and why.  You don’t want to just say it’s awesome… read it… the reader wants to know why you thought it was awesome, and if it changed your life, then how .    I also think commenting on the writing style is important and I like to add who may like a book.  I think the last part is important because anyone can sell your own opinion about a book but bottom line is people really want to know am I going to like this book, does it fit the style I enjoy.

Describe your ideal reading nook.

Cozy chair, blanket, pile of books, and butler service.

A lot has been said recently about how a very small number of readers buy the majority of books. In your opinion, how can we get more people reading?

By finding them their book.  It sounds silly but I think there is a book out there for everyone.   My niece was not a reader when I use to work at a bookstore and I ended up getting her birthday present from there.   I randomly picked up a book series that I thought she may like and gave it to her.  She ended up loving it and getting hooked on the series, so much that she started to save money for the books and count down till the next one arrived.  She also started reading other books and becoming quite the reader.

I think it is important not only for readers to encourage others to find their book whether it’s literary masterworks or trashy romance novels, and support them.  The written (or typed) word is powerful form of knowledge and reading is a gateway to unspeakable depths of knowledge and wisdom.  It just takes one spark.  One good book or story is enough to get someone to start looking and realize that there are other great stories, and other things to learn.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Nancy Madore, author of the urban fantasy/thriller The Hidden Ones, answers questions about her inspirations and writing process. Visit her website, Find her on Google Plus, or Follow her on Twitter.

The Hidden Ones is about a modern woman, Nadia, whose life is interrupted when an ancient secret society kidnaps her, thinking she’s the demon Lilith. What was the inspiration behind her character?

Nadia was inspired by the modern day woman. She’s the ideal American professional we all admire. She’s responsible, hardworking and appropriately involved in world events. She’s proud of her accomplishments. She has no real motivation to look beyond her considerable achievements in search of something more meaningful. Though she may, at times, question her decisions, she’s afraid to stray too far outside the formula that, so far, has been working so well for her.  And then one day she’s kidnapped and thrown into a situation that will shatter her beliefs about the world and her position in it. She’s forced to consider opposing points of view. And she’s challenged to step outside her comfort zone in deciding what’s wrong and what’s right. This doesn’t come easy for her, and she’ll struggle with this throughout the series.

Much of The Hidden Ones takes place in flashbacks. Nadia recounts the story of her grandmother, Helene, who in turn learns of Lilith’s story from the demon herself. Why did you structure your novel this way?

I wanted to connect the past to the present and this was the best way I could think of to do that. I’ve always been a history buff, and I think part of my fascination is with how it’s still affecting us today. Our religions, our wars—even our favorite scary characters on television—all have their origin in that ancient world.

Where did the idea for the novel come from?

This novel has been brewing inside me for many years. I think it started in childhood, when I was first introduced to the Bible. Growing up in a religious household, I read the Bible in its entirety before I was an adult. It’s an intriguing book. Though I’m not religious today, I’m still enamoured by this incredible history book, which, for all of its faults, gives us a keen insight into the people who lived during that important time in our history.

In The Hidden Ones, Lilith is portrayed as a warrior princess of sorts. What inspired this approach to her story?

The myths about Lilith are extremely negative, indicating that she was hated. As well, the amulets used to ward her off—even centuries after she died—lead me to believe that she must have been tremendously feared, and probably wielded great power. The men who wrote about her had very strong opinions about how women should act. Something about her enraged them, shattering their paradigms of the perfect female. Lilith had to have veered pretty far outside their comfort zone. She was undoubtedly strong, and maybe a little vengeful. Most significant is her fame. She is, perhaps, the most notorious woman to come out of that era, aside from Eve.  Whatever she did, it had to be big.

How much of the mythology in The Hidden Ones is based on pre-existing legends? What kind of research did you do to set up your world?

Over six years of research has gone into this series so far. I’ve tried to stay pretty true to the myths and other historical accounts. In cases where the ancient accounts conflict, I try to find common ground and I’ll use that. There are huge gaps in the ancient accounts, so I am still left with a lot of room to create.

What was the most challenging part of writing your novel?

My house was robbed just as I was finishing The Hidden Ones. The hard drive I used for back up was still attached to my laptop when it was stolen. I lost almost everything. Luckily, I had upgraded my computer within a year or so, so I had my notes and a few early chapters in my old computer. But it was devastating. I actually considered giving the project up. I went through a few weeks of depression and then rolled up my sleeves, took a deep breath, and went to work. It may have been a blessing in disguise. Throughout the initial writing of The Hidden Ones, I recalled wishing I had started with the past and worked my way to the present, instead of the other way around. That’s just what I did with the second writing of it…and I have to say I like it much better.

Whose story did you most enjoy telling—Nadia’s, Helene’s, or Lilith’s?

Definitely Lilith’s…although I really have enjoyed each of them. Helene was especially dear to me. Nadia’s story is really just beginning. Both she and Lilith will return throughout the series.

Your author bio says that before writing The Hidden Ones, you wrote erotica. Why did you switch genres?

Having many interests, I don’t like being tied down to one thing. Beginning my career with erotica was really a marketing decision. When I first started writing, things were really heating up in the media. Nancy Friday was dominating the bestsellers list with books about women’s sexual fantasies, and stories of Monika Lewinsky were dominating the news. Everybody was talking about sex. I thought this was a perfect time to do something fresh and unique with it. I’ve always felt that the media panders to men when it comes to sex, so I came up with ‘female friendly’ erotica, which focuses on eroticism rather than female stereotypes and the objectification of women. This required a great deal of research, which took a lot of time, and then, just about the time I finished Enchanted, nine-eleven hit, putting sex on the back burner for the next decade.  But in spite of this, Enchanted became a bestseller, spurring Enchanted Again and Enchanted Dreams. Throughout this period I had been gathering information for a historical series about the angels. Enchanted Dreams gave me that little push I needed to begin the Legacy of the Watchers series, because I really enjoyed writing those dark, supernatural elements into the erotica.

Are you working on anything new?

In addition to this series, I’m toying with the idea of writing a fourth installment to the Enchanted series that connects to this series. I thought it might be fun to take the characters from The Hidden Ones and make up a collection of erotic stories about them, featuring Azazyl, Lilith and Gilgamesh, just to name a few. I only touch upon their sexual exploits in The Hidden Ones. I’m tempted to write a more in-depth account of them in a book of erotica.

The Hidden Ones is available at:  Amazon US (paperback), Amazon US (Kindle e-book), Amazon US (audiobook), Amazon UK (paperback), Amazon UK (Kindle e-book), Amazon UK (audiobook), Barnes & Noble (paperback and Nook e-book)

Monday, April 15, 2013


10 Questions for author Penelope Reece. Visit her website or Find her on Goodreads.


Hi Penelope! Welcome to Zigzag Timeline. How did you get into writing?

It started when I was a child playing that holy - anything goes - game of make-believe. I used to pretend I was an author writing beautiful prose in my little composition notebook. But what I was really doing was copying one of my favorite children’s stories, verbatim.

After that I moved on to my own stories, ones that began “It was a dark and stormy night.” Back then I believed every story of worth began that way.

Then one day my mother let me play on her old typewriter and as soon as my fingers smacked those buttons I was off and running. I wrote fantasy novels about fairies and humans. I believe my first story, mind you I was probably eleven or twelve at the time, was called Into the Land of the Shamrocks. It was never finished and I still have it… somewhere.

If you want to know when I decided, “This is it! Writing is for me,” that didn’t happen until my senior year of high school when I signed up for creative writing. It was that class that swayed me from a dream of living with the gorillas like Jane Goodall, to sharing my daydreams with other people.

Can you tell us about your book? Where did the idea come from?

What can I say about this book without giving anything away? Perhaps I should just say what my inspirations were. First, there’s the whole idea of astral projection. Think Charmed versus Insidious. And then there was the painting, The Nightmare, and its connection with sleep paralysis. Throw in another dimension plus body snatching and you’ve got Phantasma: a story about a girl who suffers from a sleeping condition and ends up summoning a quirky being who was previously trapped in Limbo.

I’d had the idea for Phantasma way back in 2003. It was called Demon inside Me then and as the title suggests, Noer was a demon. In this version he was summoned via the Ouija board. One day back in January, while I was showering (Yes that’s usually the place where I do my best thinking) I decided to rework the story into something else, something other than conjuring a demon. Thus Noer became a being from another plane/dimension instead of a boring ol’ demon who threw taxidermy crows. (Though, I can’t say for sure if I’ve totally scrapped my previous idea. Some of the original may pop up in other stories. I’m all about recycling.)

What was the inspiration behind your protagonist, Alphie?

I can’t really say for sure how Alphie came about. I’m usually a panster and started writing with no one in mind (Well, actually that is a big fat lie! Usually all my female leads are molded after me in one way or the other. It’s that whole fulfilling those childhood fantasies thing, I guess). When I began with Alphie, she was just a simple black and white character, but as the story progressed, as the plot began to take shape, so did Alphie. She slowly pulled away from me until she was her own being making her own choices and basically telling me to “butt out!”

Among your characters, who's your favorite? Could you please describe him/her?

Even though I love all my characters, I would have to say my favorite in this novel is definitely Noer. Noer is this tall Romanesque being who may well be a tad bit crazy. Well he’s pretty crazy really. I enjoyed writing about him and especially enjoyed his moments of childish insanity. I have a soft spot for characters that appear to be innocent/childish/silly and yet when things get serious they get serious too. Chalk it up to my love for characters like Percy from The Scarlet Pimpernel, Kenshin from Rurouni Kenshin, and even a particular scene with Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop. There’s just something about a character secretly acting like a fop, a dandy, and or a cute innocent, when in reality they are quite intelligent and downright lethal.

I hope to show more of Noer’s eccentricities in book two, Phantasmata.

What's your favorite scene from your novel? Could you please describe it?

My favorite scene… Now that’s a tough one. If I had to choose (and I don’t really want to, but I will) I’d have to say it would be Alphie and Cary’s date. I had the most fun writing it. I even wrote it all in one sitting. Once it began, I couldn’t stop until the end. It reminded me of my high school days when I tried my hand (and failed) to flirt with those handsome guys.

I wanted to incorporate all those awkward first encounters when you’re first getting to know someone. Once you’ve establish his hotness, comes the time when you start to fish out his personality. Sometimes (for me it was all the time) once I’d seen past the pretty boy glamour, I’d realize the boy wasn’t at all what I’d expected. Or there were those times when I’d like a boy, but the only way I could flirt was by acting rude or indifferent.

What's your favorite part of writing? Plotting? Describing scenes? Dialogue?

My favorite part of the writing process would be designing my cover, because I get to sit back and let my designer do all the work. Ha! Actually, I’m kidding. My favorite part of writing would be that one fleeting moment when the idea first strikes. There is no greater feeling than getting that first flash of a scene/character and realizing this is it! That’s my story!

Afterward comes the fun part of sitting for hours at a time daydreaming, playing it all out in my head. Of course in those first few days, I let the story go wherever my mind takes it, usually to places and situations that never make it to paper. I want to draw the reader in, not send her screaming for the exit.

Do you have a writing process, or do you wing it?

I keep telling myself to stop being a panster. I hate writing like that. It’s such a stressful process, especially when I almost finish writing and realize there are so many gaping holes in my story that I need to go back and fill in order for my “on the spot” story to make sense. I hate it. My husband hates it. And we both end up in an annoying argument over it because I always make him be the one to fix everything.

There are all kinds of "rules" out there about writing - show don't tell, no dialogue tags, etc. What's your opinion on them? Do you heed them? Bend them? Ignore them?

When I write, I tend to forget about everything but telling my story. Even when I am editing, I always focus on clarity and grammar. However, when my chaotic mind happens to remember that I should be showing and not telling, I shrug and pretend I didn’t remember. So, yeah, I definitely need to focus more on that particular rule. I know I’ve let the phrases “she was angry” and “she was sad” end up in my final versions. Oh the horror!

I’m a stickler for rules. I’m one of those annoying goody two shoes who’s scared of breaking rules and even tattles on those who do. This is how I think I am. How I am with most rules. However, as far as writing rules go, I probably bend them or completely ignore them and my conscience cries out in guilt. It tells me I shouldn’t be ignoring these rules and I want so much to change. Therefore, let’s say for future’s sake that I heed all rules and do my best not to fuddle them.

In your opinion, how has the Internet age affected the book world?

There are pros and cons to the internet. The pros of course being that more products are reaching millions of people every day. In the beginning we had the newspaper, magazines, and billboards. Now everything is put on the internet. And I mean everything!

With blogs, twitter, facebook, and all the other social networks, it has become easier and cheaper (emphasis on the cheap) to get your name out there. However, in my personal experience, even using these tools won’t bring about instant success. Now that the internet has become a breeding ground, probably more so a war zone between published and indie authors, it has become that more difficult to win the readers over. What used to be a select few is turning into hundreds and hundreds of authors, all trying their hardest to get their books out there.

I’ve only been in the writing scene for a few months and it’s been a challenge. I’ve sent out dozens of e-mails and only received three or four responses, most of those beginning with “I’m just too busy now.” It seems I’m always one step (okay make that at least five) behind other internet savvy authors. Once I completely learn the rules, I’m sure the internet will become more of my buddy instead of an attractive bully.

Are there any books or writers that have had particular influence on you?

There are quite a few. I could probably list every single book I’ve ever read because I can’t with confidence say that I haven’t taken something of value from each. I love books, that’s all there is to it. I love literature. My favorite book is The Scarlet Pimpernel. I love Jane Austen, Robert Jordan, Stephen King, Terry Brooks, Alice Hoffman. I even love those sappy romance novels. Once I established my love for reading, I wanted to read everything. Of course all we had in the house were historical romances (you know the ones with Fabio on the cover). I think that’s why I love romance novels the most, because I grew up reading them.

When I was little, I hated reading. I even fell behind in second grade because I just thought it was boring, I guess. Then in fourth grade, I won at bingo. On the prize table lay an old book by the name of Shadow Castle. I don’t know why I chose it. It wasn’t like I’d win a Pizza Hut pizza for reading it (That was the only reason I read anything – to win that personal pan pizza). But it was a lot better than winning a pencil. So, I chose it and read it, and from that moment on I loved books. I loved the story and daydreamed about it for weeks, months, well… I still dream about it. It was the story that made me love stories.

I’ve since read that book so many times that I’ve had to tape the pages because they were falling out. In a way you could say this was the book that started it all. This was the biggest inspiration in my life. It opened a whole world up to me, a world of fantasy. And one day, I hope to read it to my children. Perhaps it will become their doorway into the land of books as it was for me.

Phantasma  is available on Amazon.